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Full text of "My Country And My People"

228          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

coining to the word they modify. Certain changes are evident
improvements, like the introduction of the loose construction.
Whereas it was impossible to put an if clause behind the main
clause (/ shan't go, if it rains), it is now possible to do so. This
makes the prose so much more supple and flexible.

Chinese prose has a great future before it.   It can in time
rival any national language in power and beauty.  The best
modern English prose is distinguished by a healthy mixture of
concrete words of imagery, taken from the homely English
language, and words of more exact definition and literary
meaning,   taken  from  the  Romanic  heritage.    A  written
language which considers such expressions as "a nose for news,"
"the cobwebs of knowledge," "the drift of language," "riding on
the tide of success" and "Lloyd George's flirtations with the
Conservative Party" as good, standard English must remain
a virile literary medium. A false literary standard which weeds
out the words nose, cobwebs, drift, tide, etc., and enforces sub-
stitutes like appreciation, accumulations, tendency, forward movement,
must at once lose this virility. The two components, concrete
and abstract words, exist in great richness in the Chinese
language.  Its basic structure is concrete throughout, like the
Anglo-Saxon words, and the literary heritage of the classical
literature has left behind a vocabulary more stylistic and refined
in meaning, which corresponds to the Romanic terminology
in English.   From the mixture of these two elements in the
hands of a true literary craftsman there will yet emerge a prose
of the greatest power and beauty.

VIII. POETRY

It seems fair to say that poetry has entered more into the
fabric of our life than it has in the West and is not regarded
with that amused indifference which seems quite general in a
Western society. As I have already mentioned, all Chinese
scholars are poets, or pretend to be, and fifty per cent of the
contents of a scholar's collected works usually consists of
poetry. The Chinese imperial examinations, ever since the
T'ang Period, have always included the composition of poems